Microsoft takes new run-up for automotive market

April 08, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At its recent developers conference, Build 2014 in San Francisco, Microsoft showed a prototype for a software that brings the Windows user interface with its characteristic tiles to vehicle infotainment systems. With the move, Microsoft for the first time makes its software visible within cars.

Former versions of Microsoft operating systems (Windows Automotive Embedded, a modified version of Windows CE) acted as a platform for carmakers to implement their own user interface. Examples are Fiat's 'Blue and Me' or Ford's SYNC. In contrast, the version now demonstrated at Build 2014 shows Microsoft's own look-and-feel. Reportedly the software utilises the MirrorLink technology to integrate a smartphone into the vehicle. Running the head unit, Windows in the Car allows users to play music stored on the smartphone while displaying the associated the respective cover photos. Likewise, the software can tap the contact list stored in the smartphone and establishes phone calls. To maintain driving safety and avoid driver distraction, application developers will have the possibility to deactivate their apps in 'drive' mode.

At the developers conference, also a map functionality has been shown (from Microsoft's Bing) but it remains unclear to which extend it will be used for navigation purposes - during the presentation the software crashed.

See presentation video: